The Star Who Won't Play the Last Encore

I was going to begin this post by saying that Tony Blair has done some good things and some bad things. I don’t actually think it’s relevant any more. I wish I’d been more aware during the last days of Thatcher and Major’s term so that I had more of a comparison and I wish I really knew how much of an effect the Sheffield rally had.

That having been said, I think it’s time for the Prime Minister to step down and leave the stage. He has become the issue.

Today’s edition of the Sun carries an exclusive of sorts about Tony Blair’s departure date, shortly after a decade in power. I don’t know whether that was a particular deliberate leak or not, but it is true that TB and the Sun are close – It Woz the Sun Wot Won It. I’ve been told that this was to make sure that the readership of such papers would stay on side. I’m going to take a guess and say that those readerships would not be impressed by a leadership election, particularly given the current atmosphere; the risk of ‘loving ourselves to death’ would be minimal.

I don’t see the succession of Tony Blair going away as an issue. If TB does not give any indication of when he’s going, the calls for an unpopular leader with unpopular policies to go immediately will continue and grow louder, with sections of the Labour Party and the Nick Robinson tendency of the media (and the Tories for explicitly partisan reasons) making things harder and harder for the party to do anything. Equally, if he is to announce a date – say a year hence – then as the date approaches, he will be increasingly a lame duck, with his policies taken less and less seriously by ministers who will be cosying up to whoever they think will be or want to be the next leader. Equally, people will have longer to prepare mounting alternative bids to Brown’s, leading to a fractured party (precisely what TB wanted to avoid) that will not look good for the next election.

This is a rod that TB has created for his own back by saying he would go before the next general election but not saying when. The curtain has come down, gone back up, and not only are the audience disinterested, some of the cast are walking off stage.



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